Friday, May 31, 2019

Bloom Time

Patty was surfing the web one recent evening when I received a text with the message, "Do we have this in the yard? The flowers are so lovely." along with a picture of Partridgeberry.

I texted back yes, quite a bit out back but I've not yet seen any flowers, which should be blooming now.

I've now sen the flowers. While doing some yard work Patty spotted the flowers.

And I took some pictures.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Bird of the Day

On the weekend of May 10 - 12 the Rancocas Conservancy held their curiously named annual Rancocas Watershed Bird Day (why not "Bird Weekend"?). I participated Friday morning the 10th birding my yard (and on an incidental basis Saturday and Sunday as we came and went form the house), which backs up to the South Branch of the Rancocas Creek.

I tallied thirty-two species, including a late Saturday afternoon Belted Kingfisher, espied by Patty at the top of one of our willow trees. That bird was clearly lost.

The bird of the day (weekend?) for me is the one shown above (the yellow dot sitting dead center in the bush).

Fortunately it came a little closer.

A Prothonotary Warbler. A great bird to have visiting the yard on any day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Moth Porn

This is not one but two Pink Striped Oakworm Moths. Look closely and you'll see an extra wing poking out where the two wings of the outer moth, the female, come together.

Seems she likes it on top.

A little more obvious in this image. The male has clear wings. At first we thought that it was a single moth with clear underwings. It wasn't until we mentioned it to our friend Ann-Marie Woods, who was visiting for a moth night, that she set us straight. Now I wish I had taken a shot form the other side of the window as well.

And if their union was successful I might get another chance in the not so distant future.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

It Is Happening Again

Remember this post, More Death in the Pines, from back in 2014? It looked a lot like this.

One of the resident Northern Water Snakes has discovered the fish pond. And more specifically, the fish in said pond.

Patty and I were sitting on the deck enjoying a fine evening when I noticed a reed rustle. What's going on here I wondered.

Feeding time for the snake I discovered.

We both wondered how was going to swallow this fish. We'll never know as the snake, not liking that we had noticed it, slithered backwards, dragging its prey into the reeds and out of sight. Patty opined that we'd find a dead fish floating about in the morning. I think it will swallow it.

I guess we'll find out in the morning. Update: no sign of a dead fish.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Bloom Time

Fragrant Water Lily

This grows quite nicely in our back pond. It was planted there by the previous owner of our place, who also built the pond.

We're glad he did.

And the frogs like the lily pads.

Bloom Time

While mowing the lawn Patty noticed this flower (she didn't mow it).

"Come here", she called, "I want to show you an interesting flower".

Whorled Loosestrife. It is found in moist or dry upland woods, thickets, and shores. Not sure how it got here. But we've happy to have it as a yard plant.

🌺  🌸  🌼  🌻  🌷

Thanks to Tom Besselman and Terry Schmidt for confirming the ID.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Yard Critter of the Week - Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

An occasional visitor to the yard, but one we expect is resident in the woods about the place.

Patty hopes that once the deer fence is up and the understory in the gardens fills in, it will be a more frequent visitor. We'll see.

Our fingers are crossed.

🤞  🤞  🤞  🤞  🤞

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

In Which I Get A Helper

I continued to work on the fence. My modus operandi was to start sometime between nine and ten and work until sometime between noon and one. It was slow going doing it by myself but as noted in the in this post I was getting it done.

In just two days of fencing I had made it to the Penguin Tree.* It was 80° F plus out that morning. And while I could have gone on with he fencing I choose not to. There is always tomorrow. So I went  and had a beer (maybe two).

And it turned out that for this particular tomorrow Patty had off from school. Woo hoo I had a helper!

This made things go much faster. In fact, the two of use finished getting the fence around the perimeter. Essentially we were done.

But not quite. We had run out of gripples. So it wasn't until the next day what the fence was completely up.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

And we are still waiting for the stakes to secure the bottom of the fence as otherwise deer will crawl under it. And we need to install three gates. But those are just details.

🚧  🦌  🚧  🦌  🚧

* Where by "two days" I mean approximately six hours. And all told it took about 32 hours to get the path cleared and the fence up. As noted there is still work to do. But staking should take an hour maybe two at most. The gates, depending on what we decide to do, could take some time.


In this post I wrote about how we'd decided to install a deer fence, along with the prep work and the initial delivery of the fencing materials. As we had ordered from two different companies*, we still needed to wait for the remainder of the supplies. Which gave me time to finish the prep work of clearing the path.

And it turned out that even after the rest of the stuff arrived I had more time. I had ordered the wrong gauge monofilament. We needed 8 gauge and I ordered 12 gauge. Oops. And when I tried to attache the monofilament to the anchor tree it slid right through the gripple.

This is a Gripple. Actually, it is a Gripple Plus. Made by the Gripple Company. Which is in the business of making Gripples. Hence the name.

Once we received the correct size monofilament line I was able to use the gripples to anchor the line to the trees.

The standard method is to roll the fence out on the ground for the length needed and with your helpers lift it up and use zip ties to attach it to the line. Then you use U-nails to permanently attach it to the posts, in our case trees, and then use hog ring staples to attache the fence o the line.

I had no helpers. And thus had to improvise. Using the base for our deck umbrella, my hiking stick, and a pipe I found in the garage I stood up the roll of fence as shown above and like a roll of paper towels pulled it along the path.

Of course it got caught on roots and stumps and branches. But I was able to pull it the from one anchor tree to the next.

I first tried clothes pins in place of helpers to hold up the fence. But they were not up to the task.

So I switched to carabiners, of which I had a limited supply. But they did the trick. And unlike human helpers, didn't eat pizza or drink any beer. More for me!

And I proved to myself that I could, on my own, install the fence.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

And I was able to do this even while dealing with the physical limitations of living with a ruptured disk in my back. Thats where my utility cart came into play, I used it to transport all of the tools and materials I needed. (Look closely at that image and you'll see we've used up all the fence on this roll, only the cardboard tubes are on the post next to the step ladder.)

I think it looks pretty good. By setting it behind the tree line of the yard it does not change how he yard looks (it's almost invisible). And it leaves an edge area of cover for birds and other critters.

I actually enjoyed doing this by myself. In addition to the sense of accomplishment it also took my mind off not only my troubles but the f*cked up situation in the world.

Alas, all too soon I'l be finished. And maybe then I'll even have a job.

🦌  🚧  🦌  🚧  🦌

* The two companies we used were:

The McGregor Fence Company

Kencove Farm Fence Supplies

If you want any specific info on how we did this email me and I'd be happy to get into the specifics. It really is this easy.

Whitesbog BioBlitz - Pollen

One last post form the day at Whitesbog.

It's that time of year, when I'm constantly rubbing my eyes (and dislodging my gunked up contacts; grrrrr).

Pollen Time!

Although as one person said, "better it be in the water that in our lungs" (or in my case, eyes).

As we wandered about on the Fungi Walk we encountered this flooded area covered in pollen. It did make for some nice abstract images though.

As you can see, there was plenty of the stuff.

You can revisit the three other BioBlitz posts here, here, and here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 24, 2019


During our recent trip to Tinicum, we saw an Osprey that as you can see was not successful in landing its catch.

But at Manahawkin we saw a successful Osprey.

Notice the difference?

The Manahawkin bird has a much smaller fish!

Better to have something than nothing.

Closer ...

Still trying to get 'that' shot of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

This time it was maybe fifteen feet away, gathering nest material.

I had the 100-400 mm lens this time, the 150-600 mm to big to walk about the yard with.

Still but not still; flitting about in place this time.

Too many stems and leaves.


To be continued ...

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Weekend Wanderings ... Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area

The morning of the Whitesbog BioBlitz found Patty and I birding elsewhere. Where "elsewhere" was the Manahawkin WMA.

It is a 'wild' place, although we did hear the sounds of traffic nearby, and the trail started out wide and obvious.

But this was not always the case.

The trail also started out relatively bird-less.

So we looked at flowers.

And trees ...

... like this one, a bit past its prime.

But sure enough we would see birds. Like this Gray Catbird.

And this early bird (American Robin) having breakfast.

Eventually we exited the woodland part of the WMA to the back bay section.

We saw some lingering Blue-winged Teal.

An Osprey with a small fish.

And a singing Willow Flycatcher. It was good that it was singing as it is near impossible to identify flycatchers by sight alone.

But a big reason one goes birding in May is to see warblers. Like this female ...

... and male Yellow Warblers. Yellows were everywhere this morning, their song our soundtrack for the duration.

Common Yellowthroats were also rather common.

We saw and heard several other warbler species, either up in canopy, deep in the foliage, or just too active to get usable images. A reason to go back perhaps.

On the way out we saw this seemingly newly hatched butterfly which I think is a Spicebush Swallowtail.

A nice way to start what would be a very long day.